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Wisconsin Recall Primary Elections Amendment, Question 1 (April 1981)

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The Wisconsin Recall Primary Elections Amendment was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the April 7, 1981 ballot in Wisconsin, where it was approved.

This amendment modified Article XIII, Section 12 of the state constitution to require primary elections if there are more than one political party nomination for partisan office and more than two candidates for a nonpartisan office.[1]

Election results

Question 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 366,635 58.53%
No259,82041.47%

Official results via: The Wisconsin Blue Book 1981-1982

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

"Shall section 12 of article XIII of the constitution be amended to authorize and require that a separate primary and election be held for the recall of any state, congressional, judicial, legislative or county official whenever more than one person is a candidate for a political party nomination for a partisan office, or whenever more than 2 persons are candidates for a nonpartisan office, unless one of those persons receives a majority of the votes cast at the primary?"[1]

Constitutional changes

[Article VI] Section 12. The qualified electors of the state or of any county or of any congressional, judicial or legislative district or of any county may petition for the recall of any incumbent elective officer after the first year of the term for which he the incumbent was elected, by filing a petition with the filing officer with whom the petition for nomination petition to such the office in the primary election is filed, demanding the recall of such officerthe incumbent. Such
(1) The recall<u> petition shall be signed by electors equal in number to <u>equaling at least twenty-five per cent percent of the vote cast for the office of governor at the last preceding election, in the state, county or district from which such officer is to be recalled the incumbent represents.
(2) The filing officer with whom such the recall petition is filed shall call a special recall election to be held not less than forty nor more than forty-five days from for the Tuesday of the 6th week after the date of filing of such the petition or, if that Tuesday is a legal holiday, on the first day after that Tuesday which is not a legal holiday.
(3) The officer against whom such petition has been filed incumbent shall continue to perform the duties of his the office until the result of such special recall election shall have been results are officially declared.
(4) Unless the incumbent declines within 10 days after the filing of the petition, the incumbent shall without filing be deemed to have filed for the recall election. Other candidates <u>may file for such the office may be nominated in the manner as is provided by law in primary elections for special elections.
(5) The candidate person who shall receive receives the highest number of votes in the recall election shall be deemed elected for the remainder of the term. The name of the candidate against whom the recall petition is filed shall go on the ticket unless he resigns within ten days after the filing of the petition.
(6) After one such petition and special recall election, no further recall petition shall be filed against the same officer during the term for which he was elected.
(7) This article section shall be self-executing and all of its provisions shall be treated as mandatory. Laws may be enacted to facilitate its operation, but no law shall be enacted to hamper, restrict or impair the right of recall.
[Article XIII] Section 12 (4) For the purpose of conducting elections under this section:
(a) When more than 2 persons compete for a nonpartisan office, a recall primary shall be held. The 2 persons receiving the highest number of votes in the recall primary shall be the 2 candidates in the recall election, except that if any candidate receives a majority of the total number of votes cast in the recall primary, that candidate shall assume the office for the remainder of the term and a recall election shall not be held.
(b) For any partisan office, a recall primary shall be held for each political party which is by law entitled to a separate ballot and from which more than one candidate competes for the party's nomination in the recall election. The person receiving the highest number of votes in the recall primary for each political party shall be that party's candidate in the recall election. Independent candidates and candidates representing political parties not entitled by law to a separate ballot shall be shown on the ballot for the recall election only.
(c) When a recall primary is required, the date specified under sub. ( 2 ) shall be the date of the recall primary and the recall election shall be held on the Tuesday of the 4th week after the recall primary or, if that Tuesday is a legal holiday, on the first day after that Tuesday which is not a legal holiday."[1]

Support

Supporters of the amendment argued that the Wisconsin recall system, without a primary, could allow for the election of candidates by less than a majority of voters, as happened in a 1977 recall election of a Dane County judge.[2]

Opposition

Opponents argued that the change was unnecessary.[2]

Path to the ballot

  • First Legislative Approval: SJR 5 & JR 41 (1979)
  • Second Legislative Approval: SJR 2 & JR 6 (1981)[3]

See also

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